Ankle Breaks in Gunfights

Through the 1970s to the 1990s, I noticed a tripping accident was fairly common in line operations, police work. Ankle juries. Line ops is often synonymous with chasing people and dashing to active crime scenes. Running. Running over the urban, suburban and rural terrain, and looking far off not on the objects and contours on the ground before you.

So that’s a bad enough invitation to an ankle twist or break or fall. But another thing I noticed and not just in my agency and the surrounding agencies, and then nationally – another unique accident. Police cars parking hurriedly beside curbs and other crap, and officers bailing out of cars, looking off to problem people and places, and catching their ankles on stuff. Sprain, Or break. Or fall. (I also heard similar stories from the military, where by the nature of what they do in total, the ankles are weak links in action.)

In one week, we had CID captain bail out and break an ankle, and a veteran patrol officer bail out and break his ankle because of curbs. Both were passengers by the the way. So the while driver could guess-see where he was going, the passenger was stuck with what he got over on his side.  The captain’s gun was out. The officer was pulling his gun. Think of the residual mess a discharge would have made. Could have made. There are a number of discharges each year with falls. Fingers off the trigger!

That strange week was when I began to take notice of the problem. Many moons ago.  This type of thing, a car bail-out, least of all a foot chase could happen to any ambitious person, gun or not, police or not. Military or not. (People have this problem on the supermarket parking lot!)

Look around. But, one more thing to do in preparation is to develop more resilient ankles. Not just calf raises up and down, but rotating your foot and rocking it side to side under a weight pressure.  Leg work out, even running create a better ankle to withstand surprises in the future. This alone might not be the cure. In the 1980s while I was working out regularly and doing karate and old school jujitsu, I went through a whole period of jacking up my ankles.  Stupid little accidents, like going down stairs too fast a little sideways. Then, perhaps mysteriously, with the same or “worse”  regiments, I never had those problems again, even with some near spills and twists which should have. Maybe I was overdoing back then? Smarter workouts help. I and others are convinced that working out your legs (that’s ankles too) help protect your ankles. (I might add here that the two cases I mentioned above…neither worked out.)

Since all that, I take a quick look down. Or look fast and remember where I will be when I pull up somewhere. Sometimes it could just be junk, muck or a giant puddle out there. Warn your partner if you have one. Even today, as a “former-action-guy,” I warn my wife when I think I get to close to the curb or a mess for her to get out carefully when she is the passenger.

I think emergency folks need to…curb their enthusiasm… when first getting out of a vehicle at hot scenes (and work out for as long as you can in life).

Hock’s email is

Get Hock’s  “True Detective ” books -click here…



Some Gunplay. Nights of the Mad Pay-tre-ons.

Country and Disco. Rednecks and Hippies. Back then when I first patrolled the streets in the 1970s, be it in the Army or out, I … profiled … or rather nicknamed the guys I would see roaming the bars and restaurants at night. When the dancing parlors shut down each night, waves of “Country and Disco” folks would gravitate into the 24-hour diners. Some also gravitated into our jails. It didn’t take long to realize you were more likely to have trouble with a guy dressed in black with a felt cowboy hat than one duded up like a hair-sprayed member of the Bee Gees. Profiles in wardrobes. To our dispatcher, they were all “pay-tre-ons.”

Some of the bouncers in the country and Western clubs were rough and rowdy people, and I have written some of their stories before. Like them or not, we got to and had to work with them, and they were indeed the first line of eyes and ears for a lot of stuff. They tipped us off, they pulled us out of scrapes, and they watched our backs. We watched theirs. When I was a detective later on, they helped clear some cases, even murders, for me.

One night at the Duster’s Club, two bouncers I’ll just call Ralph and Randy were whistled over by a barkeep pointing to a loud patron who was starting trouble. As they approached the disturbance, the patron turned, yelled, and held them at bay with an open palm.

“You stay outta this!” the man screamed.
Ralph thought the man was drugged more than he was drunk.
“Say, padnah,” Randy said, “come on, we just need you to leave, hear?”
“Fuck you, skunk!” the man declared, “I ain’t cha padnah!”

With that, the man pulled a big revolver from under his jacket and pointed it at them and shoved it straight out at arm’s length. Randy and Ralph ducked and backed away, and the customers nearby shrieked and ran. But overall, this place was noisy and big, and the shock wave didn’t rumble through the whole crowd. The rest of the place just two-stepped right on by. Kind of like life, really, when you think about it.

The man charged the bouncers swearing he would kill them. The barkeep called the police. And that would be me. I was about two miles away.

“Pay-tre-ron at the Duster with a pistol,” the dispatcher told me on the car radio. This “country-sounding” dispatcher, not a mental giant, always mispronounced the word “patron,” calling them “pay-tre-ons,” like they were some kind of an alien race. Our running joke for night shift when this dispatcher was on duty was – “wonder if we’ll be invaded by the Pay-tre-ons tonight?”

“Ten-four,” I said and, of course, there was no backup available. Everyone was busy with his or her own Saturday-night alien invasions.

As I pulled up into the Duster parking lot, to my surprise, I saw Randy and Ralph kneeling beside some parked cars in the parking lot. They were peeking over the trunks and hoods to the north to a cheap motel beside the nightclub. They ran to a wall and motioned me over.

“He’s in there!” Randy told me as I walked up to them. He pointed to the motel. I stared, ducking down, too, because … I can take a hint.
“Who?” I asked. The guy with the gun? I thought he was in the Duster.

“He ran out the door and across the lot. Ralph and I follered behind him. Come here,” Randy said, and brought me to the corner of the motel. “He is in that room.”
“He’s madder than hell. He is on drugs,” Ralph said. “I swear he was gonna kill us. He’s got a big-assed revolver. He pointed it at us and at half a dozen people in the bar.”

He singled out the room window for me; and I could see a light was on inside, and there was a lot of movement inside. The curtain was partially open. I worked my way around the corner while staring at the room window for any action. And then I slipped down the motel’s south wall and up the west wall until I was right beside this window.
This was an old-fashioned, cinder block-constructed motel. Each room had a horizontal window with a sliding glass, windowpane, and a curtain. The window was partially open. No screen on the window. I peered inside.
An angry man was pacing the small room from the bathroom door to the front door. Back and forth. He was quietly cursing to himself, clenching his fists, and waving his arms. On the corner of the dresser by the front door was this “big-assed revolver.” I pulled out my .357 Colt Python, my own big-assed gun, in case he decided to continue his angry walk out the door holding that damn thing and shooting up the place.

I stepped back and saw Randy and Ralph looking at me from across the parking lot. The loud and busy interstate highway ran behind them. I made a big circling motion with my hand and then pointed to a spot on the far side of the door, a signal for them to go up the service road and down the far side of the motel. I was all alone here and needed their help.  But if my quick plan would work, I needed them; and they were itching to help.
I watched the man pace. When Randy and Ralph got into position on the far side of the door, I got into mine. At a moment when the man was near the bathroom door and far from his gun, I reached into the partially open window, hooked the curtain, shoved the window and curtain open as far as I could and pointed my Python at him.

“Police! Freeze!” I barked. Which he did. His eyes cut over to his pistol.
“No! Don’t even think about it.”

Outside, Ralph tried to open the door, but it was locked.

“You will walk over to the door with your hands up. You will unlock the door,” I told him in the most menacing voice I could muster. “You keep your hands up. If you touch that pistol, I will cut you in half.”

He looked hard at me. He understood that message and marched over to the door. As he got close to his gun, I inched my pistol in just a bit more for a better angle. Yes, I would have cut him in half. He unlocked the door.

As soon as the knob jiggled, Ralph and Randy barged in with quite a double tackle on that guy right onto the bed. I thought the bed would collapse, but it didn’t. They immediately proceeded to pommel and beat the tar out of him. I casually stepped around the wall and into the room, got his gun and stuck it inside my Sam Brown belt . I took a quick peek into the bathroom for anyone else. Accomplices. Beaten-up girlfriend. Dead guys or gals. Yeah, no telling, as that stuff happens. But the stinky bathroom was empty that time. Meanwhile, the beating on the bed continued.

“Okay, okay, okay,” I said, trying to tone those guys down just enough to get a space to handcuff the guy. The suspect was busted up a bit by now. But way back then, which I still affectionately refer to as “the good ol’ days,” the jailers received and booked-in near-dead prisoners all the time, and never so much as offered an aspirin to them. Today? Today,  they get new teeth, a manicure, special trip to the hospital, and a scholarship.


(I’ll just put this photo up here, just cuz I think it’s special.)


Off to jail. Detectives on Monday morning would work the rest of this. Get statements. The guy, a Texan but an out-of-towner, had no prior criminal history. I charged him with possession of a firearm in a bar, which was a felony then, and for the assault of pointing that pistol at Randy and Ralph. Etc. Why’d he do it? Hell if I know. I just did my part of the job. As usual, I never saw nor heard from that suspect again. He must have plea-bargained himself a deal.

I guess today, decades later, all this would have to be handled differently than “1970s Texas-style.” Today, a SWAT team would be called for a 4, or 6 or maybe 10 hour, negotiated stand-off. And well, those bouncers would’ve been able to beat the guy up either.  Times have changed.

Yup, I never saw him again. Just a whole lot of folks like him. The world was full of those damn “Pay-tre-ons.” It was an invasion. He went back to his home planet. 


Hock’s email is

For way more police stories, get these books here


Gun Killer Instinct. Gun Survival Instinct

(This is a chapter from Hock’s upcoming book External Focus Gun Fighting, due out in 2020)

There are plenty of people who have shot plenty of other people without any training at all. Consider the history of self defense, crime and war.  The motivation? Fear? Anger? Justice? Revenge?  Did the shooters have or did they not have, an inbred, strong  killer instinct? A powerful, innate drive for survival? Is this there or not there in people?  How much so? Is such trainable or untrainable?

This essay is not an in-depth, psychological study on the amygdala, killer or other instincts, but really just about shooting people that need to be shot, at the instant they need to be shot. I have already collected many psychological sources in my Fightin’ Words book for your added study. I, and marksmanship instructors, or martial “guys,” artsy or otherwise, are not a great source for such PHD-plus, endeavors. In short, I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on television. We shoot the brains, not dissect them. So, I refer you to qualified, mental experts. (Also, I do not teach marksmanship, leaving that to those experts. You should become the best marksman you can be.)

I look at this subject here, only in regards to motivate people to defend themselves and offer a related, over-view of what parts the killer instinct and survival instincts are at play, via training.  

Colonel Jeff Cooper once said that if you don’t think you can shoot someone, don’t put on the gun. That’s just a starting point for some self realization. There are numerous people who know they cannot shoot anyone and couldn’t do it. There are numerous people who know they cannot shoot anyone, but they were wrong because later they have. There are people who think they can, but couldn’t. Those that think they can and have. And those that don’t ever think about it all and just go shooting at ranges. For them its an abstract question. They can’t personally relate to actual experience and aftermath and just don’t think much about it. 

Killer Instinct and Survival Instinct
“A ruthless determination to succeed or win.” “The Killer Instinct is defined as a cold, primal mentality that surges to your consciousness and turns you into a vicious fighter. … This mentality results from mastery of the killer instinct.” To many people, it’s related to the business world or to sports. We hear it for example, in the stock market and tennis. Or, any endeavor when the opponent could be “finished” and the person does or doesn’t “finish” them. If they didn’t, some critics would say they “lacked the killer instinct.” There were several KiIler Instinct, and Overkill books written in 1980s and 1990s advocating the universal use of this mindset and approach when fighting anyone, anytime, with or without weapons. And off to jail they will probably go. 

What of the Survival Instinct? Described as – “An ability to know what to do to stay alive.” This is not such a serious term as killer instinct. Survival is socially acceptable. It is almost biological, common sense. Killer is a bad word, subliminally connected to bad acts and actors, a negative even when necessary.

Now let’s add the word “gun” in front of it. GUN Killer Instinct. GUN survival instinct. These are pretty serious terms to be throwing around. Emotional. Ethical. Legal. The terms have to be considered by the major “food” groups. It is part of the “who” as in “who are you?” of the Who, What, Where, When, How and Why questions I like to use.
Group 1: Citizens.
Group 2: Police.
Group 3: Military
Group 4: Security

So, it seems more palatable, more legal even to use the term survival instinct than killer instinct. Perhaps for some students/practitioners that’s a smarter term to use. When you fight someone, both without weapons, death should be on the far end of the hurt em’ list, but when holding a knife or a gun, killing is not so far down the spectrum. It all better be smart and legal.

The Hesitation. The Concern.
Periodically through time, a martial instructor, certainly a self defense, and/or combatives shooting instructor will be asked,
”Who am I to shoot someone?”
“What will I do? Will I freeze?”
“I just don’t know that I can kill someone.”
“Will I have that killer instinct?” 
“How will I know I can pull the trigger and shoot and kill someone?”

If you have never been asked about these questions, or received such observations, I don’t know why. Perhaps you only see a group of men in their 20s, 30s, even 40s at the shooting range and they might not reveal such inner thoughts? I am not sure group of trainees in the military, once at the shooting range are given a lecture on the “will the kill?” I have no such memory? Do you?  They just shoot-away? “Yer’ in the Army now, and we kill people,” is a given. But I have heard these questions from time to time and not just from men, but from women too.

Can people “switch to kill” when needed? Killology poster boy Dave Grossman has sort of made a living, a cottage industry discussing this, and to much controversy and debate. A debate I do not want to get into here. In terms of guns, there are some speculations that only a few members of a theoretic, trained military unit actually do the killing.
But, a whole lot of somebodies have been shooting people. Suffice to say that through time, a whole lot of people have been clubbed, speared, arrowed, stabbed, shot and killed at rather close range in self defense, in crime and war, despite an alleged inbred against violence. Grossman admits that the Army improved its shooting rates from some 20% in WW II to 90% by the Vietnam War with simple, training changes. (These numbers are usually not very accurate, by the way).

I can quickly sum up the principle of that change in two sentences for the curious. When my father was in basic training for WW II, he shot at paper, bulls eye targets and they dropped him on the D-Day beaches. When I went through Vietnam era training in Ft Polk, LA, we shot at bulls eyes too, but also shot on an amazing Tiger Ridge, “jungle” range trail, with pop-up, human-shaped targets dressed in VC clothes and NVA uniforms, among streams, rocks, trees and bushes. The trail went up a hill and there were close and long-range shooting.  When you shot the target, it fell.

This was a step toward reality and a classic desensitization process. This beat all kinds of paper target shooting to me, and left me with a life-long, lasting memory/inspiration. More on that subject here in a minute. (We see a lot of military training cities for Middle East/Southwest Asia scenarios these days and many think the idea is new. Not so. For example, the Ft Polk, Tiger Ridge, Vietnam village I mentioned was built in 1965, offering scenarios with blank ammo.) 

“Motivate training through anger, not madness. Motivate training from fear not paranoia.”

Motivate training through anger, not madness. Motivate training from fear not paranoia. How do you instill confidence, proper restraint along with “killer” instinct/survival instincts, and layer in skill? For yourself? Or for your people? I would like to offer some suggestions and ideas I have learned and taught. You could start by explaining the process with nature and nurture, then explain repetition training, pinpointing and desensitization. Lets start with…

Hard-Wired and Hard Forged
Hard wired? Nature magazine published a popular article based on some extensive research into violence. “Humans have evolved with a propensity to kill one another that is six times higher than the average mammal,” so say the scientists of 2016’s The Phylogenetic Roots of Human Lethal Violence. “The researchers compiled information about more than four million deaths among more than 1,000 mammals from 80 per cent of the mammalian families, including some 600 human populations from the Palaeolithic era to the present day. They then used this information to create an evolutionary tree of different mammals’ propensity towards violence.” They go on to say, “However, aggression in mammals, including humans, also has a genetic component with high heritability. Consequently, it is widely acknowledged that evolution has also shaped human violence.”

As far as survival instincts, Dr Jim Taylor, Ph.D. in psychology and sports psychology, reports that, “Our emotions have also evolved to our greatest survival benefit. So-called “hot” emotions, such as surprise and disgust, are experienced instantaneously and powerfully. These emotions signal an imminent threat to our survival which then initiates urgent action in response to its cause that increases our chances of survival.”

Hard Forged. So when people ask these “what if,” questions of themselves, and ask these questions to you, I like to suggest some things I have used successfully. There is this “DNA” hard-wiring to fall back on, whether we call it killer instinct or survival instinct, so I remind them of the aforementioned “DNA,” as a natural head-start, reaction that may help them.

Then I remind them the power of repetition training. Pile on the reps! I tell them that the more they burn responses into their “muscle memory,” the better chance they will mindlessly snap to them, without thinking (or freezing). The tip takes away the mindfulnesss of the act and frees them up a bit. I order them to get back to work! This usually builds confidence and it is true advantage. Fortune favors the prepared. (Freezing – ambush…another topic, is a big subject covered in the Fightin’ Words book.)

“Pinpointing.” I recall once a woman in a class confessing her lack of confidence. She told me that she was scared she would not properly defend herself, that she might not be able to hurt someone, least of all shoot them. I was looking at her face as she spoke. Then, there was a change in her complexion, a grit to her teeth. Her eyes widened. She growled, “But if they were hurting my kids!” And there it was, the connection. I told her, “remember that feeling.” Remember that “space.” Why would you take solid action just to save your kids when you are their one-and-only mother. They need you. Protecting you is protecting them too. Remember this feeling. This rage. It is in you!” It was indeed in there. In her brain. It just needed a little re-wiring to reach that “survival spot” in her brain. A little quiz, a question and answer session with a person about, “Okay, WHEN would you think you COULD shoot someone? What  is that situation? What would they have to be doing?” Pinpoint that situation and place in their mind’s eye, and tell them to remember that feeling. That thought. Work out from there.

Desensitization and Repetitions of What?
If you are just sport, target shooting for the sake of sport, target shooting, then you can ignore all of this. On the important subject of desensitization and use of weapons, you have to prepare for firearm combatives by learning how a firearm operates on up to shooting people in situations. You can do so by progression.

  • 1: Learn to operate the gun.
  • 2: Shoot bulls eye type paper targets. Very abstract. Very essential, but very abstract.
  • 3: Shoot paper targets with aggressive one-dimensional pictures. A bit less abstract.
  • 4: Shoot 3-D human-form, clothed targets. Less abstract.
  • 5: Shoot targets and incorporate imagery. In other words, imagine your paper target is a bad guy doing stuff. I am not fond of this as I don’t think most people have the ability to full-fledge, flesh-out a Cinerama vision  of an attack, without a whole other meditation class.  Even then, they are limited to their imagination skills. Still very abstract. (And a note, there is a difference between “crisis rehearsal” – as in making a plan, as opposed  to transcending into some meditation style, hypnotic trance version of…”imagery. )
  • 6: Shoot life-sized, flat screen, TV films of moving people. Less abstract, but no actual contact with real people interacting with you, what you say, what you do.
  • 7: Shoot moving thinking people that are shooting back at you with simulated ammo.  In situations. In shoot/don’t shoot development. Way, way less abstract. As close as you can get.
  • 8: The real deal, which we cannot completely replicate in training.

With each step, we get closer to reality. A desensitizing progression. Plenty of people have shot plenty of other people with no training, or with just paper target training. I am talking here about maximizing potential and creating those “external focus therapies.” (You are shooting into the complex, external world.) In this maximization, a person should/must pull a trigger at another person with some regularity. See the “round” land. Experience the event, the situation. Reduce the abstract. Doing repetitions in prepared scenarios also builds the shoot/don’t shoot savvy, a very skill niche, difficult training category people and agencies are hungry to include. (I only teach interactive, moves, pieces-parts of, exercises and scenarios with safe ammo, and have done so now since the mid 1990s. External focus.)

Shooting People
This body-shape target approach is recognized by many in and out of the industry. You might recall the outsider movement years ago to remove human-shaped, target pictures from police qualification training. Shall I call them anti-police, pacifists, protested to agencies that such target practice enhanced the dreaded “killer instinct ” and produced “killer cops.” Limp administrators here and there acquiesced, taking all human-shaped pictures and shapes from paper targets, leaving the round, bulls eye and/or a bunch of other numbers and non-human shapes on targets. This increased the abstract, not reduced the abstract.

As an aside, another strategy in opponent desensitization is the name-game. Everyone recognizes that in the military, in times of specific enemies, there is a overt and a covert mission to desensitize troops against the people they have to make war with. In the old police world, crooks were “scumbags.” They are given nicknames, profiles and generalizations to limit any trigger-pull, hesitations. Real or imagined, this is just history and psychology. How a troop survives this, is a testimony to their own personal history and psychology. For some it’s easy. Some, not so much. That’s another subject.

Shoot to Significantly Stop, or Kill?
So in many modern shooting classes as well as police schools, it is difficult to introduce the term killer instinct in a positive way. It is always wise to tell people to use the term “shoot to stop,” not “shoot to kill.” Drop the word “kill.” This advice is even entering into various military rules of engagement these days.

If you shoot someone, enforcement investigators (and I was one for decades) will do a profile on your past and you’ve better not have macho-babbled about killing people. They will use it against you in prosecution or at very least profile you in their back office strategies as a problem-priority person. Real-deal “macho-people” don’t “shoot” their mouths off on these subjects.

Your official intent, unless you are some kind of sniper, or in a total war zone, is not to kill. It is to stop. When the ignorant media asks, when the stupid citizen asks, when the sleepy jury wonders, why you didn’t shoot the lapel button off the suspect first, the common lesson plan, accepted message is to try and shoot the chest because it is big and you can’t risk missing and sending bullets everywhere. This is true. It’s the main reason we cannot take “Lone Ranger” shots at people’s trigger fingers or shoe laces in the fog of war, the mess of chaos. (We do have a variety of very close, head shot scenarios to work on though, too.) Shooting the chest is not an immediate, automatic “TKO.” Can be sometimes, but you can’t count on that.

Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute, explained in a position paper about “shooting to wound.” “Hands and arms can be the fastest-moving body parts. “For example, an average suspect can move his hand and forearm across his body to a 90-degree angle in 12/100 of a second. He can move his hand from his hip to shoulder height in 18/100 of a second. “There is no way an officer (person, soldier) can react, track, shoot and reliably hit a threatening suspect’s forearm or a weapon in a suspect’s hand in the time spans involved.”

In Summary
Gun fighting. Four training ways to increase confidence. Four ways to help quell those “what if -can I”’ questions.

  • 1: Hard Wired. One way is to explain that humans are hard-wired to respond to threats, as a mindless kick start to action. This helps take the pressure off of some people.
  • 2: Repetition training. With this you can guide the “mindless” responses. This also helps take the pressure off of some people.
  • 3: External focus! Desensitization. Use simulated ammo in scenario training. Having practitioners shoot with simulated ammo in situations versus moving, thinking, people shooting back or stabbing at them, others, etc., will help them better prepare them for real world, shoot-out violence. Reduce the abstract. Military and police do it. Civilians should do it and/or do more of it. If you don’t think you need to do this? Why do the military and police do it every time they have the chance, the time, the location, and the money?
  • 4: Pinpointing. Help that person identify a personal situation where they would justify shooting someone and use that pinpoint as a memory and/or discussion point to examine other situations.

And watch out for the who, what, where, when, how and why of the term “kill,” and “Killer Instinct.” Instead think about utilizing “Survivor Instinct.”


Hock’s email is

Get the paperback or the E-Book of our bestseller Fightin’ Words. 1,000s sold all over the world. Click here

Training Arnis in Luneta Park

I was thinking about the classic park in Manila. “Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park or simply Luneta, is a historical urban park in the Philippines. Formerly known as Bagumbayan in the era of colonialism under the Spaniards.”

For many a decade if you trained in Manila, the Philippines, a must go-to place is this park. Many, many famous people have taught and gathered here. And when we were in Manila, we were either at the Presas school, this park or at the college where Ernesto taught Arnis at those times.

It did bother Ernesto a bit at times at the park, because various FMA grandmasters would set up folding chairs and watch us. He would whisper, “You see dese guys? Dey are grandmasters. Dey are spying on me.”

This above photo is me and Shelley. Early 90s. There were only like 6 of us there, so it was pretty intense. Under his scrutiny all the time. We would go about 4 hours in the morning and about 3 1/2 hours in, there would be a break. Ernesto would say, “Take a break, then…examination time.”

This photo –  Since we were so few, we also had his black belts as partners too, who were very helpful too. With Renato “Boks” Centro.

“Examination time?” we’d say in the beginning days. He was always “testing” us, but this would be a more real test for the last part of 3-4 hours. So…there was no break. We would walk off behind some trees or bushes and work through those ten minutes to hurry-review what we did. Then some water.

“Come on, COME ON!”
“Speed motion!” 
…observation “test.

Then lunch. Then another 4 hours. 6 days on. 1 day off pace.

That top  photo again. Me, Shelley Millspaugh and the big man GM watching us.  Captain Rene, a Honduran fighter pilot is behind us. Shelley Millspaugh added: “Great memories. That first camp was as intense as you could’ve made it. I haven’t had that type of intensity since. GGM was the Energizer bunny. Never stops.”


Hock’s email is

Check out the PAC-FMA-Arnis Training Films. Click here

Shooting Criminals! Shooting the 1,247,321! Scaring off the 24,10848

Important phrases in gun fighting statistics.

“One In…”
“No One Has…”
“At Very Least…”
and … “Why Bother…”

In previous posts we discussed statistics. We all know how polls and stat studies work or don’t work. Unless you like the results then you don’t like the poll or study. We know what statistics officially mean, their goal – “the practice or science of collecting and analyzing numerical data in large quantities, especially for the purpose of inferring proportions in a whole from those in a representative sample.”
We slice and dice these numbers into training doctrine, all in effort to work on what counts and prioritize training time. But what if all those numbers are incorrect and incomplete? In the United States, the FBI Uniformed Crime Reports, is such a go-to source for US statistics reports. The FBI also collects info on police officers shot and killed, which civilians read and willfully or innocently extrapolate over to citizen, self defense, training ideas. The FBI is not just a source for the USA, but folks in other countries read and use the gun numbers also. But, the FBI wants to warn us on the front page, and in sort of the small print…

“Figures used in this Report were submitted voluntarily by law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Individuals using these tabulations are cautioned against drawing conclusions by making direct comparisons between cities. Comparisons lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. It is important to remember that crime is a social problem and, therefore, a concern of the entire community. In addition, the efforts of law enforcement are limited to factors within its control. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual agencies.”

Yikes! A closer examination details more data collection oddities and exclusions, here are but two:

*Methodology: Data from law enforcement agencies whose resident population falls below 100,000 are published in this table for 2 consecutive years. If the population remains below 100,000 after 2 years, the agency’s data are no longer published in this table.

* Methodology: When the FBI determines that an agency’s data collection methodology does not comply with the national UCR Program’s guidelines, the figure(s) for that agency’s offense(s) is not included in the table and the discrepancy is explained in a footnote.

I recall how some of my old agencies and agencies I knew of, that did and did not send in data through the decades. I even a recall a small Texas city let a city librarian down the hall from the police department, classify crimes for dispatch to the FBI. She had no real idea what crime was what crime.

Yet, “The numbers don’t lie!” they tell us. But how good are those numbers anyway? And from these numbers, comes the slicing and the dicing we all love to hear about, and play with this or that, game conclusions. With these numbers we try to relax, or to scare. We try to define who we might be shooting someday, why we might need a gun or knife within reach, and the type of training we need.

So, we’ll start off with the “one in___” numbers game.
– One if four households are victimized by crime
– One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence
– One in five college women have been verbally abused by a partner.
– One in eight men and one in 11 women will die from cancer
– One in 315 has a chance of death from gun violence.
– One in this…
– One in that…
– One in the other…
– The “one in” game.

Or how about, the other, “no one has” numbers game. This slice and dice exists too, and is a flip side of the previous.
– No one has reloaded in a civilian shooting.
– No one has reloaded in a police shooting.
– No one grapples/fights with a criminal in shooting incidents.
– No one uses their gun sites within _____ feet.
– No one sees, no hear hears.
– No one this…
– No one that…
– No one the other…
– The “no one” game.

We are left with best collected info, or the “at very least,” we know that…” numbers game

* “At least one in ten have…”

The Big Picture. I have always believed and looked for the big picture in studies. The collected very least info, is rarely compared to the biggest related number. The big picture number is almost always ignored in studies. Usually the ignorance comes from the fact that “only 2,000 people” were studied, 500 “likely” people were asked. 5,000 people were “tested.”  The small people-numbers are a little embarrassing in most research because so few were involved. So you see a lot of “percentage talk.” “25% of people have less back pain from…” We are all supposed to then magnify those percentages over to…say…the 230 million US citizens? Really? The country tick bite problem directly relates to 38% of Bostonians?

What’s a big number. What is the biggest picture number available that relates to this crime subject? What do I mean? An example, using 2017 as a US snapshot.

2017 Uniformed Crime Reports total crime:
  * 1,247,321 violent crimes (at very least).
  * 7,694,086 property crimes (at very least).

Now we’ll add in a few big numbers for the big picture.

2017 US population – 230 million (big picture)
2017 US guns – 300 million guns of all types and ages “out there” 
2017 estimated UCR total crime:
  * 1,247,321 violent crimes.
  * 7,694,086 property crimes

The population is estimated. The gun amount is estimated. The FBI crime stats are “at very least,” and flawed as we mentioned. But they and we are left with the only numbers we have. At… very… least.
At very least that year we had 8,941,407 total crimes. Alone that is frightening for many. But within 230 million people as a big picture number? Oh and did I, need I mention, that the US of A is 3,531,905 square miles. The crime number in the big world of statistics is not so bad a danger number, in the big picture of people and space. There is more to the “mileage.” Crime is rampant in certain areas that skews perception. Numbers runners say that if we subtract the gun crime in places like parts of Chicago, St. Louis or Baltimore, we start looking like Japan. “Mileage” counts. “Location, location, location!” as business schools yell.

Shooting Criminals as in Shooting the 1,247,321
I am oddly fascinated by that violent crime number each year. In 2017 for example, 1,247,321 violent crimes. At very least that many, as they say.  There were an estimated 383  violent crimes per 100,000 people.  That is not 383  violent crimes per 100,000 people living in say…Utah! It is way less in Utah. Or, your home city. That’s a  “per”  (another great stat term) country wide spread. The FBI, which classifies murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault as violent crimes. How many did we, or rather, the FBI miss though? A few more? Quarter more? Half? And, what does this mean in term of shooting criminals in the acts of crimes?

We the people, are only supposed to shoot at violent criminals. Imminently violent criminals. And in the act. That number is about the acts,  but how many criminals does it to take to total up to 1,247,321 felonies? Surely not 1,247,321 individual criminals doing individual crimes. No, as history, news, prison, parole and probation studies tell us, at very least, that one criminal will commit several crimes. So, if we shoot one violent criminal, (or imprison one) we usually, often interrupt multiple future crimes. (There is a new boom of prison statistics out in 2019 by the way. See attached chart. Blow this up and look it over.)

Scaring Criminals as in Scaring Off the 24,10848

The Foundation for Economic Freedom, an unbiased numbers runner, deduced that: 

  • Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 every day. Most often, the gun is never fired, and no blood (including the criminal’s) is shed.
  • Every year, 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes are prevented using firearms.
  • If you doubt the objectivity of the site above, it’s worth pointing out that the Center for Disease Control, in a report ordered by President Obama in 2012 following the Sandy Hook Massacre, estimated that the number of crimes prevented by guns could be even higher—as many as 3 million annually, or some 8,200 every day

In the legal “gun world,” guns can be drawn to interrupt imminent violent crimes against you and someone else. So in a country with 230 million people, and some 300 million guns, the populace may theoretically, “legally’ pull/use a gun just about a million and a quarter times in 2017?

Gun threats alone can work and will go statistically unnoticed. Pulled guns alone have scared away both intended violent criminals and property criminals in numbers undocumented. Yes, I know that some US states have an old law or two that you can use deadly force to protect your property with a gun. There will always be some “backwoodsman” stepping up to remind us of this. Sounds nice, but misleading because, try to shoot someone stealing your lawn mower or breaking into your car? See how that works out for you. Try that in 21st Century. Any modern gun instructor with half a brain will warn you against doing that.

So, 1,247,321 violent crimes. Compared to 230 million people. There is a “one-in…” figure in here somewhere. You can do the math. There appears to be a small chance you will use your gun in the US. This is similar to US law enforcement numbers too. I bring this up because the next phase of the “one in,” stat and the “no one” stat discussion, is the follow-up, “why bother” crowd. They ask, “Well, if this is so unlikely, why bother do this,” do that, or do the other?

The “Why Bother” Crowd
After looking at the “One In” numbers and “No One” numbers, people may then start asking “why bother?” If a study of 2,000 people says brushing your teeth three times a day is no better than 2 times, why bother with the third brushing?” If walking for 20 minutes, 3 times a week is as good as running 3 times, why bother running? And so on.
I think that these small number studies, extrapolated upon us into assumed millions, create a lot of thoughtless hypocrisies. We carry a gun to live longer, but still smoke cigarettes. We buckle ourselves in cars and then ride motorcycles.  We target-shoot like mad to shoot the 1,247, 321 and survive, and we eat like hell. The list of inconsistencies is long. The mental gymnastics of a totally, logical life can deliver a migraine. I think it’s human nature not to handle all the small hypocrisies we carry, or even just realize them. Perhaps a Tibetan monk has it all figured out, rids himself of everything and then he just sits in a corner contemplating his navel?
With guns, the “why bother” crowd then might ask, “Why bother carrying? I mean, there’s such a small chance I’ll need one. And, I don’t live in Baltimore. My chances are even less.”

It appears many people feel this way. The Center for Crime Prevention says that there are between 15.6 million and 16.3 million concealed carry licences and more and more states are going to no-permit-needed, constitutional carry so they are uncountable. The Dailey Signal  reports that, “Studies suggest, however, that only a fraction of Americans who conceal carry actually do so on a routine basis. A recent study of 2015 survey data estimated that 9 million Americans carry at least once a month, while only 3 million do every day—about 1.2 percent of the American adult population.” This is but one study, and the results of others say about the same thing. So we have…at very least, how many actual carriers out there at any given time? They may be asking themselves, “Why bother carrying?” “Always carry?” “Sometimes carry?” “Ever carry at all?”

So what do you think? Why do you bother? If I tell you the base numbers can be wrong and off. If there are numerous other equations with bad numbers to insert in the slice-and-dice conclusions, what do you think about carrying a gun? The odds of shooting the 1,247,321? Are you basing training doctrine on incomplete and skewed, sliced-and-diced information?

I am a skeptic. I am such a skeptic, I am skeptical of my skepticism. So, I wanted to know what makes a good study? Science Based Life suggests this list:

1. Was the study large enough to pass statistical muster?
2. Was it designed well?
3. Did it last long enough?
4. Were there any other possible explanations for the conclusions of       the study or reasons to doubt the findings?
5. Do the conclusions fit with other scientific evidence? If not, why?
6. Do you have the full picture?
7. Have the findings been checked by other experts?
8. What are the implications of the research? Any potential problems or applications?

And I must also resort back to the well of the “who, what, where, when, how and why” questions. It’s a deep well and the model keeps coming back up.

Who collects these numbers? Who do they ask, poll and test?
What is the bias behind the number collection? The number collectors?
Where are these numbers collected from?
When are they collected? After some horrible gun event? Absent such an event?
How are they collected?
Why are they collected. Why do people volunteer to be collectible?

For me, beyond the flaky stats, my bottom line is I have to look at calculating/customizing my life, or any person’s lifestyle. Personalize. With guns, you get a concealed carry license or carry a gun for your lifestyle. Using the best local intelligence information, combined with using the generic risk factors, and the…very least concepts of statistics…

In Summary
My real message here in this essay? The big numbers are off and incomplete, so do the best you can to customize. And think about these things. Every gun person should think about them. Be able to articulate about them. We are all not a simple statistic. Bad stuff happens everyday. Bad stuff happens to people, happens to somebody, and it can happen to you. There’s another classic line around forever. “When you need a gun, you REALLY need a gun.”
Perhaps a Tibetan monk has it all figured out, thinks about all this “one in,” “no one,” “at least” and “why bother,” and rids himself of everything and then he just sits in a corner contemplating his navel? But, then the damn Chinese soldiers come and…

When it happens to you?
Then it’s a “one in ONE” chance.
“No one”… else. “One per one.”
At “very least” – you!


Hock’s email is

Get Hock’s books click here

Fun with Buffalo Beards

I wonder…do people know why so many folks have big bison-buffalo beards today? What caused the more “recent” …beard fad? Craze? 
A burst of beards? A “burst of beards!” (Is that an official term of venery?)

I like to ask these origin questions once in a while. Who made or kicked off what? It fascinates me, these human nature addictions.  Like who created the Krav Maga craze? It was Darren Levine out of Los Angeles in the 1990s, and like… a million or two dollars in advertising. Many Krav people say, “Dar… whaa… who?” Best thank Darren, not Imi for Krav Maga! They don’t know these things. Or, I ask, why do these dudes walk around with their pants half down on their butts. Prison, homosexual signal. Underwear, displaying, fashion people say, “wait…what?” Origins. How did Japanese Jujitsu become Brazilian Jujitsu – to the the point now when a younger person says “jujitsu,” they only think of wrestling? Origins? Splinters?

So, on the beards, why are so many people running around these days with buffalo beards?  It was/is a unique run kicked off again from the post 9-11 special force guys in Afghanistan, From these early 2000s photos sent back to the USA. It was somewhat common knowledge back then that these guys had to communicate and work with local, long-bearded cats over there and it became beneficial, much to the chagrin of many clean-shaven, US Army traditionalists, for these guys to grow insane beards. Pictures just like this one here.

“Back in the day,” in the ol’ Army, one had to acquire a “profile” to have a beard, as in a medical profile. Your facial skin was so screwed up you couldn’t shave. It seems like a few folks had such profiles, to the consternation of the “head shed.” (Head Shed being a nickname for “command,” “HQ” thee…officers in charge, etc. Could also be the NCOs too! The…sergeants.) We were jealous of these profilers. We wanted fuzz too! Just because it was outlawed. But, the profilers  couldn’t grow complete full buffalo beards, so they had, what would later be recognized as the Miami Vice/ Don Johnson look. These fuzzy profilers especially ticked off the drill sergeants in Basic Training.

Formation scene – Drill Sgt. in front of profiler:
“Private Ass-face! Your face looks like a hairy ass!”
“I have a profiling problem, Drill Sergeant.”
“I have never seen a problem that couldn’t be solved with a hand grenade!” (A magnificent line I used the rest of my life, by the way.)

And by the way, all would agree if you were alive and cognizant in the 1980s, that Don Johnson of the Miami Vice TV show, started the whole close-shave, fuzz-beard craze of those times. Further evidence that beard fads exist. But I digress.

Still, in Afghanistan, in the 2000s, special guys had beards. Minus any medical profiles. Forward operating base guys had beards too (who could shave sitting on rock ledge watching idiots test-probing and outflanking you all day and night?)

Then, seeing these action-guy photos, the wannabes, state-siders, started growing thick, long beards too. Seriously, we saw it happen.

  • Before this war era, a normal ratio of people walked the Earth with normal beards. Usually trimmed. Some were engulfed in buffalo beards we’d see, yes. But not that many at all. Cuz it was outlander-weird! Homeless-looking.
  • Before this war era, a normal ratio of “normal” beards appeared at shooting courses and gun ranges. Of those,  some, rarely, were buffalo-bearded. Rare, cuz it was outlander-weird. Homeless-looking.
  • Before this war era, there were no fun, culty, web pages dedicated to the cares and concerns of giant, buffalo beards.
  • And we cannot ignore that fact that Alexander the Great ordered his men to shave off their beards and long hairs, as in close quarters, the rabid enemy grabbed these mangles to kill them. “Off with your beards!”

Thus, the new beard craze.  Hairy-assed beards begot hairy – Rip Van Winkle – hairy-assed beards. This usually just makes most people just look way older. Seriously.  Like an old coot.

     Then, these disgusting, lumberjack, flanneled, hipsters started growing pretty-boy, beard resemblances. Splinters began.

As a result, origins-lost and the splinter factor…
– You may have a buffalo beard from some other splintered, down-line reason. You may have a billy goat beard? You may have a lesser beard but still inspired by these origins.
– You may also wear yer’ drawers outside yer pants for some other splintered, down-line reason, other then getting laid in Cell Block 13.
– You may also have “Krav Maga” tattooed on your forearm for some other splintered, down-line reason other than Darren’s original millions.

Another old school nickname for a thick beard is a “crumb-catcher.” I for one, who can’t get the smell of a cheeseburger out of my car, would not want to eat while sporting any beard inhibiting my eating and hiding my mouth, or catching the hidden plastic pieces in Subway bread, or May – God  Help  Us, plastic straws.

But, in the tangled end, I really, really  don’t care what you do, it’s fun sometimes too look at the recent origins of things and see how fads get started and what becomes of them.

Fads. I still have my pet rock. But, I had one before they started selling them, though. So…you know, I’m cool. Hey, the guy who invented the pet rock had quite a beard too. I guess I will have to settle for a Chia pet to support the cause. There’s an ironic theme in here somewhere, that I, unlike Alexander the Great,  am unable to grasp…


Hock’s email is

Check out Hock’s Author Facebook page, click here



  • To soldiers, it’s a way to take prisoners and kill the enemy.
  • To police, it’s pretty much a no-no.
  • To martial people and martial artists it’s a tap-out, win-win.
  • To self defense people it’s several easy escape tricks and quickly boring.
  • To many martial artists, doing a hand choke is crazy and dumb  because there are so many easy escapes. To many martialists, they then ignore doing and teaching these simple choke/strangle escapes. Or eventually then…forget them.

What I want to write about here today is the differences between chokes and strangles. And, citizen and-or self defense concerns about strangulation with a special emphasis on domestic violence. To real people in real everyday world, strangulation is a criminal assault with so many ramifications, but the category includes a terrible amount of domestic disturbances violence (assault and murder) on women.

I write this from my years of experiences responding to about a ton of domestics, working murders, attempted murders, aggravated assaults and simpler assaults. I also write this from attended police profiling courses and working in martial arts since the 1970s. And, I also write this from continuing to research these topics, such as with the recent, interesting book No Visible Bruises. My point here will be, that self defense and martial arts training, even cop intervention fail big time to help in the big strangle picture of domestic abuse.

As an aside, probably the worst  domestic case I had was a triple homicide. A man shot his wife and two kids, tried to shoot the third kid but the young girl escaped to a neighboring apartment complex. The neighbor called the police as he threw the mom and kids down a well. We arrived, talked to the surviving daughter, then chased and caught the guy on the run in a few hours. I “befriended” him, got him to confess. He told me about the well and where he hid the gun, etc. I helped haul the bodies put of the well later. He eventually got a death sentence. No choking involved to my knowledge, it’s just the worst domestic case I ever had. Just one domestic case with the biggest toll.

I’ve worked a number of strangulation cases and I wish we had the science, stats and resources, help groups and MONEY that are around today. Years ago another detective, Jeff Waro and I were working a hitman and organized crime cases and we were suddenly assigned an unrelated murder (oh, thanks admin!). A woman was strangled by a wire hanger in her apartment. She was not raped. We dropped everything to work on this case, looking for a motive. We quickly uncovered that this dead, college girl was a mistress. She was strangled by her boyfriend. The boyfriend was married. He and his wife just had a baby. THAT day of the murder! With this newborn, we guessed he couldn’t have his mistress around? We got enough evidence for a warrant and hunted down the hospital of the child birth in Dallas. Wawro and I arrested the strangler at the nursery, in the very room with the wife and new baby. With every act of violence, simple or complicated, there’s a trauma and a drama.  Each one is a sad story.

Choke versus Strangle. A few years back after I retired, I worked to keep my Texas commission and had to attend 24 hours a year of certified state training. One year I collected 2 of those hours by attending a new-laws, legal-update course. That year Texas had changed the laws on choking/strangulation. If a suspect choked the windpipe the charge was higher than just choking the bloodlines. Obviously choking/crushing the windpipe is more serious, but this was legal news to me. I remember thinking to myself back then, “Man! There must be a lot of choking going on if the State decided to make these distinctions.” And I assumed it was another step on the long war on domestic violence. Other states were making the same changes, too. And yes, it was based on domestic murders and assaults. Hey, did you know that there is a “Strangulation Institute?” Yeah. That’s how bad things  have gotten.

Is the word “strangle” or “strangulation” synonymous with the word “choke?” At some primitive, semantic level perhaps, yes, but it seems to mean more…when its your throat. Right away people think a strangle is a “hands on throat” attack. Way back when I was in the army, the US Army basic training called the throat attack a strangle. You were killing the enemy. Then months later, in the military police academy they called it a choke. Choke sounds…better, doesn’t it? More “in policy.” The choke was to temporarily incapacitate a suspect, not kill a Viet Cong. And strangulation is usually associated with death. I realize these are English language terms and other countries have or may not have such split, nuanced meanings for act of squeezing the throat.

To a common person and to some experts, a hand squeeze strangulation is thought be an act of hate, or anger.  Someone wants to “squeeze the life out of you.” The victim could be someone the attacker knows, or a stranger. Hating a stranger? The victim-stranger might just be a recipient of a so-called “projection.” By that I mean the victim might act or resemble in some way, someone the attacker hates, or wants a violent release upon. Sudden or planned. Or, in some of the murder and serial murderer cases, a strangulation is an after-the-fact, cover-up to kill and remove the body after, say, a sex crime.

But we all know that the neck squeeze can also come from the arms and tools. You often here the legal version term – ligature. (A chest squeeze might seem like choking to some, but that is “positional asphyxia” and is another subject. ) But whether hands, arms or tools, you have a blood flow attack and/or an air flow attack.

The squeeze is done with-

  • The right hand
  • The left hand
  • Both hands
  • Right forearm (the victim is pushed against something)
  • Left forearm (the victim is pushed against something)
  • Right arm wrap (from behind, full arm or forearm only)
  • Left arm wrap (from behind) full arm or forearm only)
  • Some item that squeezes the neck (like a rope-ligature)
  • What’s the other hand doing in single hand chokes?

The Big 3 Position Problems

  • Standing, with nothing around you
  • Up against something like a wall
  • Bottom-side ground (rarely but possible, topside too)

In the profiling courses I’ve been in and my own disgusting, depressing studies of veteran profilers, some of these stranger criminals do strangle. Stranger attackers like rapists, robbers and kidnappers can also be stranglers, and the quick self defense tricks taught by martial people can help a victim make a quick escape.  But what if you can’t immediately escape? Like a partner or spouse? A National Institution of Justice study found that, “If a person has been strangled by someone who says they love them, their chances of being killed by that person are immense. The study found victims are ten times more likely to eventually be murdered by someone who’s choked them.” Ten times! I repeat – ten times more. Strangulation, anger events in domestics are linked to the murder of women. 

As the Paul Simon song goes, “There must be 50 ways to leave your lover.” But to an abused spouse, it’s…complicated and each one of the 50, as in the big picture of kids, housing, lawyers, money, fear , anger, pain, maiming and even death – just “Hopping on the bus, Gus” is not so simple. So, if the cavalier, Paul Simon says there are 50 simplistic ways, cavalier martial arts people might think there are 50 simplistic, ways to escape the choke/strangulation. And they are indeed some simple ones.

So simple! But I think after a while. Martial artists realize that doing the common, hand strangulations are so easily defeated, the informed/experienced think someone would be crazy to do them. This idea then leads the veteran to forgetting about doing them, and to forget about showing them, and forget about teaching the escapes, forgetting to remind average people that common chokes/strangles are indeed a realistic threat (and certainly for females – who seem to statistically suffer from them the most.) I know I will hear now from “Joe Karate” over this, telling me they still do this stuff already. But I ask, really? ALL THE ONES LISTED ABOVE? And how often? In all 3 big position problems listed above? I’ll bet not. AND…there are hand, stick, knife, gun solutions! Are you doing all those also?

MMA people fear and respect the choke. Old school police do too. But you know what choke I am talking about, the classic rear choke. Maybe the triangle choke. “Giving up your back.” What about  hand strangles MMA? Hand strangles? No, They don’t do it. Its against the rules and therefore why even bother with it. I understand that. One does not football tackle in basketball, nor do finger breaking in Tennis. Nor punch in Judo. The rules of the game. And police are always in controversial trouble touching anyone’s neck. As a result, much choke and counter-choke training is also swept off many LEO outlines and doctrines. Don’t get me started on the subject of police “neck restraints” and “police chokes” semantics. That’s a whole other essay.

Symptoms of strangulation can include:

• a sore throat
• difficulty swallowing
• neck pain
• hoarseness
• bruising on the neck or behind your ears
• discoloration on your tongue
• ringing in your ears
• bloodshot eyes
• dizziness
• memory loss
• drooling
• nausea or vomiting
• difficulty breathing
• incontinence
• a seizure
• a miscarriage
• changes in mood or personality like agitation or aggression
• changes in sleep patterns
• changes in vision such as blurriness or seeing double
• fainted or lost consciousness

Not listed in the above diagram, or perhaps not well known, but I have learned from working cases, are signs of rather vertical scratches on the neck. How’d that happen? The victim grabs the attacker’s hands and tried to pull them off. The victim’s own fingernails scratch their own neck, vertically.  You will find their own DNA under those fingernails. This further proves strangulation was involved in your investigation.

It’s possible to experience strangulation and show no immediate symptoms at first but even die weeks later because of brain damage due to lack of oxygen and other internal injuries. Also, numerous strangle victims have head-brain injuries too, from being bounced off a wall or floor.

But with the proliferation of MMA rear chokes, I am often mystified over the lack of choke, follow-up, MMA injuries compared to those of regular, citizen crime stats. I wonder why so many MMA and martial artists survive so many neck squeezes with no follow-up problems. Because they are in…”shape?” I don’t know. Maybe because we learn to tap-out really fast, and our work-out partners get into the position of a successful choke, know they are, and don’t put the ol’ death squeeze in? And we are released early? Thwarting REAL pressure? I just don’t know. But pro-fighters are checked after fights for neck, and brain injuries. Do the squeezing fingers of the hands cause more, deeper damage potential than a wrapped arm? I just don’t know.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline says, “If your partner has ever put their hands around your neck, put you in a “sleeper hold” or used anything else to strangle you like a scarf, necklace, belt, rope, etc. you may have physical and mental damage.”

What to do?
When I had to walk into a heated domestic disturbance as a patrolman, we cops were expected to perform miracles, expected to solve years of marital/partner discord with our tremendous advice. It…can’t…be…done and I learned quickly that my first goal was to separate the parties for at least the night. If people are hurt? Then we arrest somebody and call an ambulance. But, these folks have to get help tomorrow. WE CAN’T SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

We can’t and neither can Joe Karate. Teaching a woman a simple escape from a strangle hold is one thing. But in her home, at night, a slap-release trick doesn’t solve the problem either. Because when the big brute has his choke hand or forearm slapped away, he gets madder, or more, worse violence occurs to this mentally and physically trapped person (usually a woman, and I say brute because stat-wise it is a high percentage, idiot men that does this.) This is a terrible, complex trap-incident for an abused woman. Can we teach every woman, every time to become a wolverine-banshee when choked, further decimate-incapacitate  her husband, then pack up her kids and leave?  What do you think?

So a few simple escape tricks might get an attacker on a parking lot off of you. That’s handy stuff. But, an abused spouse has many more problems going on that we, as a martial artist, a self defense instructor, a cop on a call, can’t solve. We can show them the quick tricks, but we MUST also watch our for all the troubling signs, and point these people to help.

It always goes back to my drumbeat of the “who, what, where, when, how and why.”

  • Who? Who gets strangled most, then least? Who strangles
  • What? What is the strangle? The Attack? What must you learn to defeat it? What happens next? (More on that later).
  • Where? I believe that most strangles occur in the home. But where else? Parking lots? Where?
  • When? When is this going to happen?
  • How? How will it unfold? How you he react? You?
  • Why? Hate, anger, craziness, etc.

Examine all these big and small questions under the envelope of good intelligence information and your personal life.

But what does happens next? That instant? The next hour? Day? Week? Year? (There is some research that a year breaks the bad, relationship pattern in men with women, in many cases. Again, many factors.) Look, I can’t list all the domestic violence information here. I mentioned earlier the greater resources of today. Search on these topics and get lists, tips and help resources. The internet is full of good advice and help, phone numbers, etc.

Also, can I ask you…the instructor…the practitioner…not to forget going over strangles and choke hold escapes regularly? The whole list I have offered above? I know its so simple and boring. And, keep on eye on people around you. There is an underground world of pain out there hidden behind many houses and apartment walls.

Teaching someone so-called,  self defense is not just poking someone in the eye, or knee in the balls. There’s an immediate problem and the aftermath. Some aftermaths are worse then others. With every act of violence, simple or complicated, there’s a mental or physical trauma and a drama.

What happens…next?


The Institute, click here


Hock’s email is

Like this essay? Get more of the same with Hock’s Book Fightin’ Words, the paperback, or Ebook, click here

A Cable Striking Workout I’ve Done For 40 Years

Last month I taught a seminar at Doc Sheldon’s Private Training Center in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. The place is loaded with equipment and I saw a cable machine. As an aside I showed some folks the workout I’ve never stopped doing with cables since the 1980’s, that I thought was fairly common knowledge. Others surrounded us, but no one there had seen it before and they found it inspiring. So for the record, here it is.

We all know the big five, generic  essential punches:

  • Jab (high, medium, low)
  • Cross (high, medium, low)
  • Hook (high, medium, low)
  • Uppercut
  • Overhand or descending overhand

There were eras in the US military that never taught an official jab or official cross, but rather just called them “right punch” or “left punch.” They thought that shoulder and foot positions weren’t important or situational and uncontrollable. I however have always seen a difference and used the training concepts of jab – foot/shoulder forward and cross – rear foot/rear shoulder because I see the need for such isolated practice.

Technically on a cable machine, you are always “pulling” on the handle and pulling cable weights up the “tower” of the machine. But to define this particular exercise process I explain that when you stand facing the machine, the cable is pulling you into it, pulling your hand into the machine. When you are facing away from the machine, you are pushing the handle away from the machine. This is how I like to define the exercises for clarity. Push-Pull. Face-away, push. Face in, pull.

I would like to add quickly that you can use these same cable machine methods with palm strikes for all you anti-punchers out there. But only in the “pushing outward” method.  You have to close your hand to grip the handle with facing in to the machine.  Don’t hyper extend your wrist. Use reasonable weights. Emphasize the palm heel as much as possible.

If you shadowbox with hand weights – yes – you are abstractly building the path for punching. Abstract because you have to remember that your hand, arm and shoulder are battling gravity with that hand weight. The more the weight and the more the hand extends, the more you are building/fighting vertical gravity and building those related up-down muscles. With a cable machine there is no up/down gravity, just the machine pivot point behind or before you at the prescribed height. Some people shadow box with mere 1 or 2 pound weights and this is so light there is not much “gravity” fighting at all. But more hand weight? You are losing goal, effectiveness.  Vertical building? Or, horizontal building? Horizontal unless of course, you are uppercutting or doing low origin shovel hooks.

You won’t get Conan muscles doing these cable exercises. Maybe Conan O’Brian muscles? But I think this method develops striking power and speed. I do a set of 25 reps with each strike listed below, when this series comes up in my rotation, which can be once or twice a week (for 40 years give or take sickness, medical operations, and travel). It takes about 20 minutes of non-stop motion. The next day my arms are very sore and my lower back muscles, with all the torso twisting, are sore. It can be aerobic, but if you switch your feet a lot with the uppercuts and hooks, it adds to workout. 

People like to do various exercises with those big rubber bands, but they can be limiting in range when attempting all the below listed strikes, and you have to hook them onto something! Will the hook be the right height? How? Meanwhile, the ubiquitous cable machine will offer the range and the height and quick-change resistance.

It’s all about the push-pull. Long ago, fitness and sport experts suggested that you must develop the pushing and pulling aspects of functional movement. One way is breaking movements down in isolated exercises. For example, in football practice years ago, they made us run up and down hills. Running down the hill as fast as you can, made you run faster than you ordinarily are. You can feel the extra speed as you struggle to keep up with yourself flying down hill. You also experience what it feels like to be faster than you normally are.  Remember that feeling. Emulate it. The same is true when you work strikes with a cable machine. When you face the machine and punch, the cable weight pulls and should makes you move faster. Just a little! Like running down the hill and falling, don’t overdo this and yank yourself into an injury.  Strike and let the cable weights make you a bit faster. And, when you retract, you get that benefit also.

With this advice, I stand facing the machine and facing away, back to the machine. I do not do these with heavy plates, but you can build up to anything you want, I guess. Just try to remember:

  1. Don’t hurt your wrists!

2. Whether punches or palm strikes get the right positioning for your hand, the best hand-to-handle position. When punching, try to get your knuckles involved in the pulling and pushing. When palm striking, try to get your palm heel involved in the pushing. (You can’t face the machine and “pull” the palm strike because your hand is open.

3. Always try to keep your free hand up and open. Don’t get sloppy and let that other hand drop.

4. Keep your mouth closed, teeth together as a matter of routine. You can still expel “martial” air.


Now, some exercise suggestions

The Jab and Cross (Punch or Palm) Set the pivot height at shoulder length, face away from the machine  and do-

  • A set of right jabs pushing handle.
  • A set of left hand jabs pushing the handle.
  • A set of right crosses pushing handle.
  • A set of left hand crosses pushing the handle.
  • Try some bent-arm low punches, “thrusting gut” punches too. They seem to get ignored. Set the pivot point gear low and do them.

Descending Overhand (Punch or Palm)

  • A set of right overhands pushing handle.
  • A set of left hand overhands pushing the handle.
  • A set of right cross overhands pushing handle.
  • A set of left hand crosses  overhands pushing the handle.
  • A set of right overhands pushing handle with a slight hook.
  • A set of left hand overhands pushing the handle with a slight hook.
  • A set of right cross overhands pushing handle with a slight hook.
  • A set of left hand crosses  overhands pushing the handle with a slight hook.
  • Add a slight hook to this and this exercise helps with a very popular and successful MMA style strike. You may have to reduce the weight a bit as the wrist goes a little funky with the turn and slight hook. Experiment with the weight.

Hooks (Punch or Palm) (High Hooks or Low Hooks)

  • A set of right hooks pushing the weights.
  • A set of right hooks pulling the weights.
  • A set of left hooks pushing the weights.
  • A set of left hooks pulling the weights.
  • (You can use a lot of footwork doing these)

Uppercuts (Punch or Palm)

  • A set of right uppercuts pushing the weights.
  • A set of right uppercuts pulling the weights.
  • A set of left uppercuts pushing the weights.
  • A set of left uppercuts pulling the weights.
  • (You can use a lot of footwork doing these)

Combinations (Punch or Palm)

Set the gear-pulley-pivot points at:

  • various distances apart
  • various heights
  • invent combinations of the above, in both push/pull directions!

Some other points:

  • Of course you should still hit bags, etc. As I have aged, hitting things that don’t give-way (and I don’t wear big boxing gloves, nor wrap my wrists, as I don’t want to become dependent upon them.) cause me follow-up wrist, shoulder or back pain. There are various pieces of equipment that “give” sufficiently.

  • Cable machines also have straps for your ankles and the rest of your legs. You can also rig yourself up for cable, kick (and knee) work. Through the years I have done snapping, hooking kicks/knees with cable machines. But, as I have gotten older with bad hips and deteriorating backbone discs, I can no longer do these under the cable weight without follow-up pain. This essay is just about striking.

You will be looked at by gym trainers as unsafe, uncool and crazy. But after you start doing the uppercuts, blowin’ and goin’, changing footwork with each punch, they tend to leave you alone. In this vein, I am sure there will be a fitness guru here that responds to this essay and tells people I am killing you with this idea. I just don’t think so. 

As usual, as natural, you will do this and get over-confident and keep adding the weight plates. More, more, then more.  Then you will hurt yourself. Then you will heal, recoup, rebuild, add, add again, get over confident, hurt yourself, heal, recoup…re….you get the picture. This is the life we have chosen. This is the lifetime routine. Get use to it or die fat and out of shape.   

These exercises have been very beneficial to me. It’s one more thing I can do in a typical, solo gym workout that leans toward functionality. Some of you may be doing these your whole life too? But I thought I would write this for

  • those who are new at this,
  • those who won’t do them,
  • those who didn’t care to before and might try it now,
  • those who “say” they do them, but not as completely as I have listed here,
  • or for folks who’ve never thought of it.


Australia’s Peter Sciarra on using cable for knee strikes Click here 


Hock’s email is

Check out all our hand, stick,knife and gun books and films by clicking here:

Jaw Broken in a Fight

Loose lips may sink ships, but loose jaws lead to pain and medical operations. 

Or…How can we remember to close our mouths in the assaults, or honor duels of life?

One of my early detective cases in the 1980s was to unravel a country-western, bar fight. About 6 guys were involved. Some were arrested on the scene by patrol. In patrol I/we sorted out the scene and rarely saw the aftermath. But investigators have to become aftermath experts. I caught the case because there were serious bodily injuries, otherwise it would just be another, unassigned, ignored, knucklehead fight passing through the system. Participants would bond out on simple misdemeanors and the disorderly conduct and bruises would fade away. But, sometimes there were serious bodily injuries. I hated to get these cases through time because they were always complicated and messy to – oh, what’s the pop word today – oh yeah…”unpack.” You know, who started it? Who hit who? It’s a messy suitcase.

I set up an appointment for a statement with a mumbling knucklehead on the phone and he showed up at the station. I quickly saw why he was mumbling. His jaw was wired shut! He took a simple hook punch and crackola! Worse, the doctor had to knock out a tooth so he could suck squashed food through a straw. I thought the tooth removal was extreme, but I guess that’s what they did decades ago. Make space for the straw. Adios premolar. He said he had to carry wire cutters in his pocket in case he vomited. And could like…drown in his own vomit. Talk about an emergency. He said he would be wired for almost two months.

This was not my first or last jaw-broke arrest or some-such case, but I think it was my first “aftermath” interview with a broken jaw person.  Through the years I worked numerous, “simple” punches in the face that turned into serious injuries cases, AKA felonies. I have many of these stories but today I seem to be  fixated on broken jaws.

Jaw wiring sounds and looks so bad I was surprised years later to see how many people have their jaws wired to loose weight (and how the modern docs avoid the old tooth removal idea). This diet is extreme, and people still need to have wire cutters very handy.

“But eating is only part of the problem. There’s also a strange claustrophobia that comes with having your jaw wired shut. Try closing your mouth and clenching your teeth together lightly. Now imagine that you can’t move from that position – not even a little bit, not even for a second – for the next six weeks.”- MMA champ Cub Swanson

A very common prognosis is 6 weeks wired up, depending on the fracture. WebMD states that men are about 3 times more likely than women to sustain a broken jaw. The American Bar Association reports broken jaws come from:

  • Assault = 50 percent
  • Slip and Fall = 15 percent
  • Sport Related = 15 percent
  • Auto Accident= 10 percent
  • Other Activities = 10 percent

50% from criminal assaults. I believe these stats are also common in other countries. What can we do about this? I always look to the laboratory of combat sports for great resource info. But, as in all sports, this is of course, why God made mouthpieces. (I tend to use the decades-old term mouth “piece” and not the modern term mouthguard. Mouth pieces today gets confused with lawyers, musical instrument parts and other stuff.)

Give me one moment of your attention as we run the classic facts. Stay with me now…

“Mouthguards are a low-cost way to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and tongues,” the docs say. The American Dental Association recommends wearing custom mouthguards for, are you ready, “the following sports: acrobats, basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, roller hockey, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, …” Their advice ends in three dots, so there are even more hobbies that can’t bother typing them all? Is sex in there? And we can’t forget that even fighters with big gloves and mouthpieces get broken jaws in the ring (see the link below for some in-depth reporting on this and sad stories).

WebMD and Colgate reports – “There are three types of mouthguards. Stock, and boil-and-bite mouth guards are usually found in most sporting goods stores. Athletic mouth guards can vary in comfort and cost. A custom-made mouth guard fabricated by a dentist or orthodontist is considered by many to be the most protective option. The most effective mouth guard is resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should fit properly, be durable, be easy to clean and should not restrict speech or breathing.” 

SISU says, “Mouthguards can also protect others from your teeth. Even if it doesn’t hurt you or you don’t feel it, you can easily injure another player with your teeth. If another accidentally smacks their elbow on your teeth, it’s highly unlikely for your teeth to break skin if you are wearing a mouthguard. “

OKAY! Whew, we have officially covered the usually boring, safety briefing stuff. Now lets get…real…(those three dots again). Martial stuff.  We are not playing soccer, but rather punching, palming and elbowing and even kicking the lower parts of heads as a matter of routine.

At the US Army military police academy back in the early 70s, some boxer MP cops ran a boxing program off-hours and weekends to augment the official “combatives” at the academy. As a Parker Karate guy, I signed right up. A coach handed me a little box with a mouthpiece in it and told me it’ll save my teeth and would teach me to keep my mouth shut when fighting. I didn’t know back then he meant shut for “all” fighting, not just boxing. In good theory, rep time wearing your mouthpiece should also reinforce your mission to keep your jaw closed when fighting, which we all know is a key structure for jaw break prevention.

A mouthpiece or two, usually quite nasty, can be found in all serious workout bags.  In the fight world, the mouthpiece helps us, does  teach us, requires us, makes us keep our mouths shut. Loose lips may sink ships, but loose jaws lead to medical operations. We would like to create the, dare I say “muscle memory” (note the quotes you anal retentive bastards), to keep our mouths shut in bare knuckle fights. But do we wear them all the time? Enough of the time, to create this habit? Do you?

People in the combat-sports-and-defense-business don’t always train with mouthpieces in. Class after class covering methods in kick boxing, boxing, Thai, Krav, combatives, etc. have people doing tons of drills without their mouthguards in place. Copious amounts of all kinds of training is worked on and during so, few even think about their mouth positions, their jaws at all, and least of all shove a piece in for every whole class. Think about this. Think of you. Think of your friends and classmates. Think about your school, organization. If you’re not actually sparring, are you wearing a mouthpiece all of the time? Some of the time? Never?  Do you practice for this? Or seemingly…ignore it? Is the idea ignored in your chosen course/school?


Numerous protected fighters have still had their jaws broken.


I was in a rather popular, international, Thai Boxing association in the 80s and 90s and passed the first 5 levels of 10. There was very, very little actual Thai boxing in the ring with this famous group, but rather a ton of mitt/pad work. There was no strict, organizational rule about wearing a mouthguard in training drills. In fact, think about the sound effects you hear in Thai. With every strike, with every kick comes the standard “whoosh” or swoosh” from pursed lips. The whoosh/swoosh is articulated, not muffled. Such takes a little free mouth and jaw manipulation. No mouthguards evidenced. Tons of class time sans the piece. What then about Jeet Kune Do? Wing Chun? How much time is spent working on a stand-off “duel” like two boxers, and doing entry tricks without an iota of concern about your jaw position. Karate? Stick work?

Now, if there is equal time sparring, you have time and grade wearing a mouthpiece and teaching your jaw to stay shut in a fight. (You can still exhale air malevolently with a mouthpiece). But, it must  be noted that breathing well and fully with a mouthguard is a constantly reported problem by many practitioners for all the obvious “passageway” reasons, and mouths tend to open. Jaws drop for air and from fatigue. Dangerous times!

While people can be assaulted on the proverbial “streets,” fights happen everywhere. Domestics in houses. Workplaces. Rec places …yes… country western bars, and 50% of all broken jaws come from  these assaults.  It stands to reason, you won’t be wearing a mouthguard when attacked. But you can practice in one and develop good , teeth-gritting, “muscle memory.”  

Are you? Is your school/course geared for self defense? The piece helps keep/train our jaws to be shut, like a prop, and secure when we are attacked in the “outside” world. In real life, we don’t have or fight with mouthpieces. They just don’t seem to be handy. They are in a smelly little container in gym bag somewhere. How does this spell out for you? We have to remember to close our mouths in the assaults or honor duels of our lives.

It’s just something for you to think about. It’s a topic practitioners should consider, discuss intelligently, and have an opinion on, one way or the other.

(One quick, side story. I know a Russian bar bouncer in Australia who had a  bouncer friend with a successful de-escalation trick. When the friend was having an elevated confrontation with a customer. The friend would put up one finger, reach into his pocket and pull out a mouthguard. He’d insert it. That act alone often quelled many disturbances.)


Hock’s email is

Like the nature of these essays? Click here and get Hock’s Fightin’ Words book for way more.

Boxing Glove Leftovers – Fists ON Your Face, Yours…

Does this photo disturb you?

It bothers me.

It represents a GIGANTIC transition, mistake in “real fighting,” or…or…”non-sport, fighting.” Whatever you want to call it. First off, let me say that I hate to pick on a single photo. It is often unfair. Taken out of context. All that. You have to look at the single, training photo with some big picture analysis. But I am not picking on any one person or system. This photo is representative of years of what I’ve seen. Decades even, and still do see it. That is placing your bare fists tight up against your face as some sort of standard fighting stance  

Let’s jump right to my point. If you see this before you? Try and strike the bare fist glued on the face.  Any strike you like. Hit it or them. It’s lunch. Lunch served up for you from yesterday’s leftovers. The original meal from yesterday? Sport, big-gloved boxing. It’s an odd leftover from that. It does not transition well.

Another main theme in the ballpark here? Let’s hyper jump right to it now also – if you are -solder-ing, LEO-ing, krav maga-ing, citizen-ing, or combatives-ing your way to self defense? Your core punching research and study must prioritize BARE-KNUCKLE BOXING! Not just sport, big glove boxing of “western” and Thai. (And even in Bare Knuckle fights, they still wrap parts of their hands and their wrists. I may not get a chance here to discuss hand and wrist wraps and how it relates to real struggles.) At any rate when the fight starts in the supermarket, or the factory floor, or the family picnic, you will not be wearing boxing gloves and your hands and wrists won’t be wrapped.  

Palms, hammers, and, we are going to discuss punching here. This is NOT an essay about fist-punching versus palm strikes. Lots of folks hurt their bare hands punching and remember…LOTS DON’T! Lots of people DO NOT break their hands punching.  That’s another subject. Let’s take one thing at a time. This is not that time.

I would instead like to address the many “reality” training operations that way overuse big, boxing gloves in their classes, or some big glove boxing theories, passing them off as self defense training. And the one major leftover – fists glued on face as some sort of fighting stance.

You see a lot of POSED photos with fighters and martial artists with their hands up and on, or almost on, their faces.  Photographers try to get the hands and/or gloves up in the picture frame. These same people might not fight or use a stance like this, but the distribution of these photos help create the “fist on face” copy-cat motif.  People will mindlessly replicate this. Even Instructors will mindlessly replicate this.  And whole systems will too. Should folks without big gloves stand like this as some sort of official fighting stance? As a matter of system doctrine? I say no.

Look, if you know me, you know I am a proponent and exponent of boxing. I filmed and produced a highly regarded, fantastic, popular,  boxing series with Jim McCann in Sugar Ray Leonard‘s gym in Baltimore. 

I have boxed and kick boxed since the 1970s. I still make my students kick box for various skills. And so many wonderful, important, simple things come from boxing. Examine it and experiment. Not everything transitions over to a crime or war survival struggle.  Like gloves.  Everyone knows, takes for granted, that you won’t be wearing big-ass, boxing gloves when ambushed, fighting wars, or arresting people, or as they say, “street fighting,” but I ask you to think this through, fully realize that some sport, boxing-big-glove, associated movements have some leftover cancers. Make the training mission connection. 

If you are indeed a boxer, then you must wear boxing gloves.  Same with Thai. You are a boxer! In western boxing, everything is about the big glove. Every aggressive and defensive movement is centered around those big gloves. If you are not a sport boxer? Don’t wear them, or at least limit them for special purposes (more on that later.) The MMA glove is superior tool for MMA, and/or that real, street fight prep. Best? No gloves at all for prep, but with extended time periods on mitts and bags , MMA gloves can be a skin and bone saver and your training can endure longer periods.

Making the solid, bare knuckle fist.  Can you make a solid fist inside a boxing glove? Where is your thumb? Through the years, boxing glove manufacturers warn you that you need to wrap your hands and wrists and you can’t make a tight fist in a glove. The glove/no-glove transition, or lack thereof? Assaults and robberies, etc, crime history is replete with the hand injury stories of sports people suddenly not wearing the sport gear. Like the time in 1988 when Mike Tyson bare-knuckle punched a guy and while knocking the antagonist into the next dimension, he broke his hand. A point to consider is boxers hand and wrists are wrapped under their gloves, and they do not make serious, like a “free-hand,” closed fists inside boxing gloves, this position becomes their muscle memory. Take the gloves off? Under stress, they probably block and punch with incomplete concerns about their hand positions (and thumbs). I know several, old-school, kick boxer, cops that broke their hands punching people in arrests. I, and we, could go on and on as we all have these stories. If you fight bare-handed as though you are wearing big boxing gloves you may have serious problems. 

I first saw these bare-hand, “strike-the-cover-hand” methods in JKD, FMA and Silat back in the 1980s. We did material about palm striking, hammer fisting  and punching the opponent’s bare hands when they were on the face, or very, very close to the face, and “trapping/delaying” their bare hands when on their chest area, if they seemed pin-able. But for me and I know others, the training was so segmented, we never grasped the big picture. We would put our Thai clothes on and change mentalities and methods and then do that. Change clothes again and do something else. Rules. Segmented. We would box and just do that. Rules. Segmentation. Karate and do that. These rules and segmentations are not good. No blend. No evolution. Sometime, somehow, in the 1990s, the light switch came on for me to truly blend.

When teaching in the late 80s and 90s in my regular school, I taught in a city with two major colleges. The volume of people I saw come and go was remarkable. I never taught kids, Always adults. Many were students of other systems and I saw quite a number of folks whose definition of a fighting stance was to place their bare fists right on the their faces, or just barely off their faces, as in the photos above. Plenty also placed their finger knuckles right on their upper gum line or maybe their cheekbones. I interviewed them and this was from leftover boxing or kick boxing. Leftover big glove arts. I want to make three quick points about this mistake.

Point 1: Getting hit like this is not good. I mean…think about it!

Point 2: Distance? – If you are unlucky enough to be in some kind of fight, will there be a stand-off, “duel,” square-off situation? It’s possible. Maybe. Yes. If so, if you plant your hands on your face you are letting your opponent get closer in to you than if your hands were out, toward him more. JKD’s Larry Harstell once said in a seminar, “Make him earn that space, don’t just give it to him.” Your reaction time sucks enough already without allowing him to get closer in to you, shaving even more time off.

So, in bare knuckle fight theory, not big glove theory – and well, maybe in big glove theory sometimes too – hands always on your face like this is a problem. (This is also a problem with the newer, turban, head-wrapping fad/craze. Jez…folks. There are quick doomsday blocks/cover when you absolutely need it, compared to just over-doing, over-wrapping your head. Overdoing this head-wrapping turban stuff is…is just nutty and a marketing trick.) Again, “Make him earn that space, don’t just give it to him.” People like to argue about fists-on-face as being fine, but they cannot win an argument on this distance issue. The “earn-the-space” distance issue alone wins the argument.

Think about how many self defense people put up the classic “fence-thingy” – hands up, hands out, palms out to keep people away.  Distance theory.  Your hands can sometimes keep people away. Find your comfortable, performance spot. 

Point 3: He’s covered? –  If you are a regimented, segmented, programmed boxer wearing gloves and you see your opponent boxer lift his or her big, padded, boxing gloves up to their face, this is some proper, padded protection. You think…”oh well, darn, he’s covered.” To some extent with big gloves this is true. But when a leftover, un-gloved person follows this same gloved habit with bare fists, the regimented boxer might see this too, as “cover,” and still hesitate to strike because he thinks…“Oh well, darn, he’s covered.” Leftover thinking from gloved boxing habits. The other guy is not “covered/protected.” No big gloves! You have no padded gives. He has no padded gloves. If you have an open path to the head and hands on face? Travel it. Hit them. Hit these bare fists on his face. 

You can try (note the word “try”) and hit the “glued-hands” in a standoff position should a standoff happen, or after his strike. You deal with his strike however, then you must really worry about…”the other hand.” Where is it? How alive is it?  If it’s up there on his face, maybe you can hit it with these classic JKD, Silat, FMA, etc suggestions- 

1: straight punch or hooking punch to…

2: straight or hooking palms to…

3: hooking hammer fist to…

Hand are fast, Your hands. His hands. Fast. And structural mistakes can be overcome by moving your hands around quickly as needed.  Lots of people quickly and smartly use their forearms for sudden protection. Fast hands might save the bare-fists-glued-on-face guys, but, fast hands are no excuse to justify stupid doctrine.  Most “fighters” retreat to forearm covers and hands way back in the instant that they need them, nicknamed “doomsday blocks.” They don’t use this position as a fighting stance standard. Once escaped, they return to “normal, up-front” hand positions.

I am writing here about maximizing potential strategies and doctrine. Know your goal. Know the best way to achieve it. Remove abstracts, or at very least reduce the abstract. In training, it is almost impossible to completely remove the abstract…because…it’s training. So, reduce the abstract where you can. This is a constant challenge. 

Bare fists on face? I once again must resort to one of my hero’s remarks, champ Bas Rutten when he said on this subject “Ah, the meat-helmet defense. Would you put a focus mitt up to your cheek and let me punch it? No, because it’ll still KTFO.”

Several traveling seminar instructors these days, I think are running out of ideas, and have started to add/teach pure, BIG-GLOVED boxing. I think this is a mistake unless they openly advertise –

“Self Defense Weekend! Plus – 2 hours of Sheer Sport Boxing.” 

Okay then, mission properly advertised honestly and well stated. You’ll do self defense stuff and pure sport boxing. Or, how about –

“Self Defense Weekend! Plus – 2 hours of Applying Boxing Methods to Street Fighting.” 

The word “applying” is key. There will be changes! Nicely advertised. But maybe with MMA gloves, we hope?

“BOXING! The Best Self Defense!” 

No. Not alone. No. Every week the UFC is on TV, this message is sent out to the world.  Even neophytes can see this.

But this is not just a mistake of a traveling seminar person. This mistake appears in regular “self defense” classes in schools. If you do pure, big glove boxing as part and parcel of your self defense class you are off-mission. Not good. Not smart – especially when you could so easily fix that with no gloves or MMA gloves and a few short explanations.  Many Krav schools have also added/introduced big glove boxing on mitts, bags, etc. to fill class time? Exercise? And appear to be more combative? Is this the best use of class time?

Folks,  let’s not forget the mechanics of hitting. Hitting mitts and bags with big round, padded gloves is different than with MMA gloves or bare handed.  It…feels…different. It feels different on your hands and in your wrists. Also, using your knuckles as striking point tools are easily lost inside the bulbous, boxing glove. Spending a whole lot of your self defense time hitting gear with big boxing gloves is just “off-mission.”

The MMA glove is better because in fights you need to hit AND grab and grapple. And for so-called “reality fighting,” on the “doctrine chalkboard,” MMA today is superior to “BJJ” and “Boxing,” because it already includes both as a mission. But if you just want to wrestle, or box? Fine! You do what you want and like. It’s your choice, your hobby, your fun, your exercise. Even your addiction. And addiction doesn’t always allow you to think straight.  Just know what you are doing. Who, what, where, when, how and why. Know where it fits in the big picture.

I mentioned “special purposes use” earlier. I do love to see the boxing gloves on the walls where I teach. I need them sometimes as a progressive, handy tool. When do I slip big boxing gloves in when teaching? I do still use them when I think its appropriate. One example would be some ground fighting. Hero on the ground, trainer on top of him punching down. We are trying to get the bottom guy to do a move or maybe draw a knife or gun under some stress. I will ask the topside guy to wear one or two boxing gloves and give the bottom guy some safer, distracting flak. And, there are indeed times, when I think its appropriate, people need to just flat-out box for a host of skill developing reasons I seeking to work on, and the big gloves are a safer device in a progression to a bare knuckle goal.

So the “stance?” When I warn people about the fist-on-the-face-thing, they ask, “well, where should your hands be?”  For a quick response? “Not there!”  A vast, and I mean vast,  majority of boxers, MMA and otherwise systems have their hands up and a bit forward and off  from their faces, in the upper window of combat. I’d say, a vast majority. And most keep them moving a bit anyway. A so-called fighting stance is about balance and power in motion, not a still photo, position. I could probably show 8 different photos here representing tons of boxing and non-boxing fighters with their dukes up in varying heights somewhat away from their faces. 

For me, for my “business” (and yours?) I am not developing boxing-boxers. I am trying to study and utilize Boxing and Thai. I am trying to help the spread of “self defense” survival in a bare hand, stick, knife, gun world. Are you? What…is…your…mission? If you don’t already, please consider the necessary changes from sport boxing to the “hitting below the belt,” no rules fighting you claim to teach. One such examination involves the use of, or limited use of,  or non-use of, the big boxing glove.

(Update:  This essay was shared and re-shared from here over 150 times, with a couple of thousand comments. People are still finding it and commenting. ALL positive but for TWO! Only two separate, panantukan instructors claim that it is smart to start all fights from their face cheeks. They believe that their hands are faster if fired from the face cheeks. I couldn’t help but look up a video or two that one of them made and sure enough, it seems like one guy’s fashioned his entire system, for years, based on the fist on cheek fighting stance. It would seem when overwhelming comments from veteran experts – oh, like Bas? – and some science and common sense comes along, one might change/evolve.  But no…)

More! Click here and watch Bas Rutten video test! Bare knuckle vs. MMA glove vs. boxing glove

More! Slightly off topic, but interesting – The Paradox of Boxing Gloves


Hock’s email is

Get this download, click here: Combat Strikes 1-6